Friday, January 30, 2015

Brigham Young: The Colonizer

For a history of Utah and the colonization efforts of the LDS Church, I highly recommend Brigham Young: The Colonizer by Milton R. Hunter. The author has done extensive research to paint the most accurate picture of the settlements created by the early saints. I can definitely say that I learned a lot and it was fun to read how Utah came to be what it is today.

I was particularly interested in Brigham Young's reaction to the Gold Rush happening in California. Here are a few quotes from him found on page 181 of this book:

"If we were to go to San Francisco and dig up chunks of gold, or find it here in the valley, it would ruin us... I can stand in my door and can see where there is untold millions of rich treasures of the earth--gold and silver. But the time has not come for the Saints to dig gold. It is our duty first to develop the agricultural resources of this country...As for gold and silver and other rich materials of the earth, there is no other country that equals this; but let them alone; let others seek them, and we will cultivate the soil; for if the mines are opened first, we are a thousand miles away from the base of supplies, and the people would rush in here in such great numbers that they would breed a famine. . . When the Saints shall have preached the gospel, raised grain, and built up cities enough, the Lord will open up the way for a supply of gold to the perfect satisfaction of his people; until then, let them not be over-anxious for the treasures of the earth are in the Lord's storehouse, and he will open the doors thereof when and where he pleases."

I also enjoyed reading about Brigham's policy regarding the Lamanites (Native Americans). He counseled his people to first of all build forts in each new settlement to create some distance between the two parties. One of the apostles, George A. Smith, carrying out Brigham's policy in a new settlement told his followers to begin building a fort immediately and said, "It is unpleasant I know but it is also unpleasant to have one's back stuck full of arrows."

After ensuring the safety of the settlers, they were to appoint one person among them to be the trader with the natives. They were also to help them by teaching them to cultivate the soil and raise their own food. Many tribes welcomed these lessons and were grateful for the help they received from the Mormons. Brigham counseled again and again to treat all the natives with the utmost Christian charity. Because of his policy, the Mormons and natives, for the most part, got along extremely well, and much better than any other party crossing into and through "Indian Territory."

Overall I quite enjoyed this book and I am happy to have it on my shelf.